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Medical Cannabis Fence Sitters Not In The Pink


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The pink paper congratulated the State Rep. ( who has been a member of the Illinois House for about 5 years ) for his efforts to force insurance companies to pay for breast cancer screenings. I'm not at all opposed to breast cancer screenings, but after the conversation I just had with the State Rep., I felt he was exploiting cancer victims more than he was willing to help them.

Since his ignorance did not seem totally calculated, I won't name him here. However, followers of Illinois politics may recognize him as the only Democrat in the House of Representatives who, less than a year ago, served as a Republican in that same Illinois House.

I was shovelling my driveway and ready to take a little break when a perky, bright-faced woman walked up and introduced herself as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. She said she was out talking to people about why they should support the incumbent State Rep. in my district, and that he would be along in a moment if I had any questions for him.

I asked the perky State Representative from another district if she was a Republican or Democrat. She said she was a Democrat and that the Democratic Party in Illinois was so glad to have a forward thinker like my State Rep. joining their ranks, so the Democratic Party can continue to strive for change to make Illinois a better place.

I asked how she voted on medical marijuana. That never got out of committee, she said. It took me a moment to remember, but it did get out of committee in the Illinois Senate, but then the Senate ( Democrat-controlled, like most branches of state government in Illinois ) voted it down. So she didn't get to vote on the bill herself. However, she said, as a former prosecutor she believed that the state should be supporting more treatment and less incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.

I said that wasn't a terrible idea, and I would have asked why her party doesn't do something about it, but since I have two friends who are dealing with the toxic side effects of cancer treatments right now, the medical cannabis issue was actually more important to me.

"How would you vote on medical marijuana?" I asked.

She was hemming and hawing about seeing details when my own State Rep. caught up with her.

"This is Steve and he has a question, I think, about medical marijuana," she told my State Rep. as he reached out to shake my hand.

My State Rep. said he would support the right of doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, without explaining how patients would get it.

I laughed a little and said that it was great of him to support the free speech rights already granted to citizens by the U.S. Constitution. I told him I had friends going to cancer treatments, and that many people going through such treatments report bad side effects being alleviated by cannabis.

I said that the medical marijuana bill rejected by his colleagues in the Illinois Senate last year wasn't even all that great, since it doesn't really have a quick supply mechanism, and people don't really plan in advance enough to grow plants in time for sudden chemotherapy.

But beyond that, I asked, don't you think people who are very sick should have every option? He didn't disagree, but he said he was concerned those who weren't really sick might get the opportunity to legally use cannabis. So he would have to carefully consider the details before committing one way or the other.

Likely sensing he had nothing more to gain from the conversation, he quickly changed gears, handed me a small stack of papers, and asked if he could count on my support in the upcoming primary.

I waved the papers and said I'd have to carefully consider the details before committing one way or another.

After he walked away, when I saw the pink paper, I got mad, particularly as I reviewed the conversation in my mind.

At this point, I should make it clear that I do not wish to suggest Illinois Democrats are worse on the issue of medical marijuana than Illinois Republicans. Indeed, there has been much more support from the Democrats. But, the Democrats control state politics right now, and they claim they want positive change that helps people. They could have settled the medical cannabis issue years ago, as it is not controversial with voters, but instead they pretend it's too controversial.

This guy was touting his credentials as a cancer fighter, but he's wishy-washy about legally allowing people who are really suffering from cancer treatment to use something that has worked for many. And his concerns about people healthy people having a legal path to cannabis are ridiculous for two reasons.

First, right now, the cannabis control system in Illinois doesn't work. There's not a high school in the state where many kids don't know where to get it. To suggest that allowing sick people to use will somehow throw a very sound system out of whack is not only absurd, it is offensive. It seemed to me as if the State Rep. was placing the legislature's own failures on the backs of the sick, instead of simply acknowledging that the system of cannabis prohibition that they reinforce with new laws each year is a failure and a sham.

Second, it also sounded to me that the legislators thought it was more important to punish non-sick users that to help sick users. This shows traditional moral sensibility turned upside down.

Just as the legislators pretend marijuana prohibition works in Illinois, they seem determined to pretend that there is no medical marijuana in the state. It is the non-sick cannabis users and growers who are helping the sick users get through their ordeals, while the legislators stand as roadblocks to legal, effective medicine. In this story, the legislators are villains, not heroes.

Maybe my State Rep. thought he was showing how much he cared by passing out those little pink pieces of paper, but to me the whole episode showed precisely the contrary.

Source: DrugSense Weekly (DWS)
Copyright: 2008 DrugSense Weekly
Contact: DrugSense: Drug Law Reform - Weekly Newsletter
Website: DrugSense: Drug Law Reform
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